Lazette Gifford
Publisher & Editor


Rules to Write By

By Suzan L. Wiener
Suzan L. Wiener

If you're not getting enough acceptances, maybe it's time to review the work you're sending out and look at it through an editor's eyes, not just your own. It may be hard, but you have to be objective, as an editor would be, to see how your work can be improved.

Some writers feel that every word they put down is a precious jewel, too valuable to ever be thrown out or lost. The thought that someone else might want to change their work is unthinkable to them. This is the mark of someone who has never been published, and sometimes the reason they haven't been.

Listed below are rules I try to follow with my own work, which have helped quite a lot.

l. Never become complacent about your writing ability. Always look at the world around you for new ideas. The stimulus could be just a conversation with a friend, or a television program. It's very important to be alert.

2. Thoroughly check manuscripts for grammar, punctuation, clarity, and spelling before mailing them. Hold a manuscript for a few days, and then check it again. You'll be surprised how many typos you find the second time around, with a fresh reading.

3. Never take offense at criticism, especially from an editor, without weighing the merits of the comment. Editors are usually deluged with manuscripts and one who takes the time to comment about a rejected piece probably felt it had potential which could be developed further.

4. If you can, join a writing class or a writers' group to get objective, constructive input. While the help of an aunt or a cousin might be kind, they may not want to say anything negative, and this won't improve your writing.

5. Read as many novels and short stories as you can fit into your schedule. Doing so can help you gain new insights and ideas which may spark your memory bank. It can help you get rid of writer's block as well.

6. Always send for a sample copy and guidelines or find them on-line before submitting anything to a publication. Editors don't appreciate receiving material which obviously isn't geared to their audience. It's also a waste of good postage, which can be put to much better use.

7. Either buy how-to books on writing or check out your local library branch. While writing is creative, there's also a technical side to it that must be mastered. Reading these books, you can learn about outlining plots, developing characters that come across as real people, and creating scenes the reader can see and feel.

8. Keep acceptance letters and check stubs organized to keep track of whether you are making a reasonable amount from your writing or just doing it for fun.  Buy stamps by the book or roll at a Post Office branch and pay for them by check. That way, you have a permanent record of postage expenses for yourself and the IRS at tax time. Also, don't forget to deduct the cost of any other supplies, such as computer paper, ribbons,  and copying material. Although it may be a bit painful at first, it's a good idea to keep your rejection slips in case the IRS decides to see if your claims are legitimate. That way, you can show them the complete picture of how those expenses were generated. 

Following these guidelines should help you on the road to success. When you find that most-welcomed acceptance check in the mailbox, you'll know it was well worth the effort.